When she came into work, her ultrasound dream aligned with the real ultrasound. Her idea was to do surgery not after the birth as first suggested, but before. The surgery would occur in utero. They would attempt to drain the fluid before the c-section giving the other doctors more time to get her lungs working since they wouldn't have to waste time removing the fluid. This created a greater risk for me as the doctors feared the needle may accidentally puncture me causing internal bleeding. A deadly situation for myself.
Now Tom and I are a bit naive. We thought the battle was won and we'd would be going home in a week or so after the routine tests. Wrong. The problem? The fluid kept coming back. It kept pouring into her chest cavity. This is known as a condition called congenital chylothorax. Too much fluid in your chest cavity results in difficulty breathing, eating, and eventually you die. So doctors kept doing a procedure called a "tap" to drain the fluid out of her chest cavity. But this procedure is tramatic on a newborn; how much could a 5 pounder endure and every tap risked serious infection.
RSV in an adult looks like a common cold but in babies, especially premature babies, it can be deadly. Esther contracted RSV because she was losing all her "good fluid" making her susceptible to just about anything. Doctors and nurses told us to prepare ourselves. She might not have long, would likely not last through the night. There was no way a 5 pound baby would be able to fight both congenital chylothoax and RSV. The next 24 hours were critical.
It was indicating zero liquid in the chest cavity. It was saying Esther's cavity was clear. The ultrasound technician asked, "was she tapped last night?" My husband immediately said, no. This meant that Esther disposed of 90 ml of fluid in just a couple of hours prior to her last ultrasound that had occurred less than 12 hours before. Not scientifically possible! So the technician switched instruments and dug out the fine-tuned instrument. Same result. No fluid! Praise God. The shock permeated the PICU unit. Everyone was buzzing.
Our issue was that our daughter was on these $1000 a day IV's that supplied nutrition but nothing else. No fat. No breast milk. Our baby was not allowed fat as it could cause the chylothorax to return by rupturing that duct again. The fluid would then invade her lungs once again and she'd suffer respiratory distress. We'd be back at square one. And yet, the research showed that it was breast milk, God's design that could heal our daughter.
My parents (bless them!) bought us an extremely expensive centrifuge. And as Tom will tell you, nothing can bring you closer to you mother-in-law than spinning your wife's breast milk in the kitchen together. Day after day, Tom and my mom spun. We'd take it to the hospital. We fed it to our daughter. Another week went by. Esther was starting to thrive for the first time. Tests were run. She looked ok. No fluid in her lungs!
I'll never forget our first Sunday home. Tom took our oldest daughter Emma to church and I remained home with Esther. It was serenely quiet when I heard His voice. "You know you want to nurse her Laura and she's ready to be nursed. Trust Me and do it." Despite being explicitly told by doctors that I was not allowed to nurse Esther, that it was far too dangerous and that we'd end up right back in the hospital, I listened to that strong, soft voice.
Despite warnings from doctors that Esther might never be normal and have issues, she has not. Today she is a vibrant and bouncy 4-year-old and I thank God every minute of every day for her. What a blessing she is in my life. So often, I doubt His goodness, His grace. But Esther is a daily reminder that I can trust Him. I hope you know you can too! God Bless.
Timeline of all the miracles
- February 15th 2012 my OB-GYN took an ultrasound and saw the fluid in Esther's cavity. Esther would not have made it two more weeks in utero.
- February 16th Dr. Singh had a clear vision on how she was going to tap me (removing the fluid) prior to birth
- February 17th Dr. Singh's procedure worked and Esther came out crying as there was applause from everyone (both lungs were working).
- Esther contracted RSV in the NICU and was transferred to the PICU. A premature baby with congenital chylothorax (at the time she had 75-100cc's of fluid in her cavity in addition to RSV. The outlook was bleak that she would even make it through. Not only did she not have to be placed in a induced coma (because the convulsions of the sickness can be so bad) she made it through with very little struggle. A new set of doctor's finally agreed to allow Esther to try the skimmed breast milk.
- Surgery was discussed because it just wasn't safe anymore to continue to tap Esther. Sooner or later an infection would occur. The next day the ultrasound showed that the fluid was completely gone.
- March 20th 1 pm Esther tasted the skimmed breast milk for the first time. There was never another time that Esther's fluid had to be removed.
- March 30th we went home.
- A week later Laura decide to let Esther breastfeed trusting that Esther was completely healed and the ultrasound the next day confirmed that Esther was once and for all healed!